Thursday, June 16, 2005

interACTIVE

One of the revolutionary aspects of this revolutionary new medium is the revolutionary way people can interact with each other, without the mediation of the evil mainstream media, on whom we all depended in the horrible past to represent our important and well-informed "perspectives", order coffee, and wipe our asses. When Al Gore invented the revolutionary futuristic future we live in, we got to wipe our own asses, and each others', without interference from the man. This is called "comments", which I don't have, but I will now interact with those of other people.

Derrick somewhere noted that arrugula is increasingly called rocket, and wondered why. First of all, it is the English word for Eruca sativa (like many of our food words, from the French [roquette], not italian), dating to at least the sixteenth century:

1530 PALSGR. 263/2 Rocket an herbe, rocquette. 1548 TURNER Names Herbs (E.D.S.) 36 The other kynde called in latin Eruca syluestris is communely called in englishe Rokket, it hath a yealowe floure. 1578 LYTE Dodoens 622 Rockat flowreth cheefely in Iune and Iuly. 1605 TIMME Quersit. Pref. p. vi, Like bad and unskilful herborists, to sowe rocket and to weede endive. 1693 EVELYN De la Quint. Compl. Gard. II. 200 Rocket is one of our Sallet Furnitures, which is sown in the Spring as most of the others are. Its Leaf is pretty like that of Radishes.
Note the last author, whose Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets, readily available, will school you about what is, and isn't, exotic. It was also, according to Karen Hess, commonly planted in Colonial gardens through the eighteenth century.

Of course, that is not why people are suddenly using the word again. The explanation for that is that Alice Waters has been calling it rocket since the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook (she, after all, made its acquaintance in France) and approximately 90% of the restaurants on the west coast (and not a few on the other) are but a few degrees of separation therefrom.

Elsewhere, La D. wanted a recipe for enchiladas suizas that did not, God forbid, include tomatoes. I was going to type in the recipe from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican, but that would take too long. This one will do, except for the inexplicable omission that the tortillas are never enchiladas (i.e., dipped in the salsa verde). This can happen before or after they are fried; judging from the originals, I would dip, then fry. Also bizarre is the author's belief that they are so called because they were made by actual Swiss immigrants. In fact, Swiss is merely an eponym for dairy; to enjoy the true dairy orgy that is the point of the dish, I recommend souring your own cream in lieu of the commercially available crema (which is fine).

Surprisingly authentic, though, is her suggestion of Manchego, confirmed in the Diccionario enciclopédico de la gastronomía mexicana, which also adds sesame seeds.

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